Tiger forward Destyne Thomas battles with an MTSU player for an offensive rebound.

Down by eight after the first quarter, the University of Memphis was within striking distance of Middle Tennessee State University. And while there were nagging, opening-quarter lapses, it was the second quarter that produced a hole too deep for a recovery by the Tigers.

The Lady Raiders (6-2) from Murfreesboro outscored Memphis 21 to 4 in the fateful second quarter and held off the Tigers 69-53.

Trailing 42-17 at intermission, UofM head coach Katrina Merriweather’s Tigers (5-5) were searching for a solution. A determined team of Tigers emerged from halftime and took it to MTSU, outscoring the Lady Raiders 20 to 9.

The final quarter was pretty much a standoff, with Memphis outscored by a bucket. Fueled by guard Jalynn Gregory’s 22 points, including seven three-point shots, MTSU never surrendered their advantage.

The Lady Raiders outrebounded the Tigers 22-15 in the first half.

“MTSU is not known for being a team that’s strong on the offensive boards, but you have to give them credit for out-hustling us several times on the glass during the first quarter,” said Merriweather.

A large reason for the Tigers’ struggles centered on the shooting woes of star guards Jamirah Shutes and Madison Griggs. While Shutes managed to score 13 points, Griggs was held scoreless as Memphis shot 29 percent from the field.

“Give credit to MTSU’s defense for forcing both Maddie and Jamirah into taking very tough shots during the entire game, along with most of our squad,” Merriweather said.

Memphis pushed back in the second half behind the efforts of sophomore forward Hannah Riddick, who scored six of 12 points during the third-quarter rally. Four deep shots by MTSU’s Gregory kept Memphis at bay.

“Number 10 (Gregory) was the only player for them who converted multiple three-pointers, and only two players from their team hit a three the whole afternoon,” Merriweather said.

Merriweather was encouraged by the play of Riddick, who played sparingly as a freshman last season.

“Hannah was a player that would’ve gotten more playing time had she not suffered an injury last season,” Merriweather said.

“She’s been a spark for us, and with her improved abilities on the offensive end, she’s developing into the player we envisioned she’d become.”